Live Review

The Antlers, The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Build and build and build music.

Funeral music is a bummer. It makes you feel like something of your own has passed away, be that a friend, animal, or your favorite childhood object. It causes pangs of self-loathing and regret. It turns positive moments into bleak Goya-esque black landscapes. However, when you feel like you are in the worst moment imaginable – burnt out, sad, forlorn – funereal becomes an apt appetite suppressant. The Antlers are a band for anyone that needs to sink into a melancholic bliss, thereby forgetting their own trials and tribulations.

Their live act is their record. It’s strange to hear a band play so carelessly and casually, while producing (without even the appearance of effort) an exact replica of their recorded material. For some, this can be a turn off. Seeing a live show is about reinvention, reimaginings of songs so familiar they are etched below the eyelids, on the back of palms, on a sweat drenched number from the buxom girl at the party last night.

The Antlers don’t disappoint. If you were a fan, you will continue to be so. They are a swagger band (surprisingly so considering the albums material, wrought with loss and disease). Darby Cicci on keyboards hangs his head low, hair the only visible aspect of his head and face. He presses on the hanging chords, the keys floating as ethereal notes in some twisted band of fallen angels. Peter Silberman, the seeming brainchild of the band, is all bursts of energy, he visibly strains over every one of his falsetto croonings.

The Antlers are build and build and build music. They break and reassemble. The show opens with their song ‘Kettering’, one that continues from the opening track on the album, ‘Prologue’, a slow burner that is all feathers and light until it spreads into the reverb heavy, echo-pedal effect crash finale. From there they play ‘Sylvia’, perhaps the greatest track on the album, a song that sounds like a heart machine flatlining; a song that sounds like your closest family members clutching each other in the waiting room after hearing that a loved one had passed. Even in all the sap of emotionality, the crowd sang along the entire time.

The one glaring issue with The Antlers was their behavior. Much of their music was from their latest album, ‘Hospice’. These guys are not lacking in talent, proficiency, range, but bravado is the last thing you’d expect from a three-piece singing about cancer, playing music meant for headphones. There is nothing wrong with confidence and The Antlers were not pedantic, they just acted too cool. Cool is all well and good, but a little humility goes a long way.

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